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Extracting a couple of screws (and repairing afterwards)

Extracting a couple of screws (and repairing afterwards)

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  #1  
Old 06-11-18, 05:30 AM
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Extracting a couple of screws (and repairing afterwards)

I have a hardwood kitchen chair that's some 25 years old. On either side, a 1' curved brace (the same wood as the chair) connects the back to the seat. It's held in place by four screws.

The two screws that hold one of the braces to the back snapped a little while ago, about an inch from the head. That's made getting the remaining screw bits out of the chair difficult: the exposed ends are jagged and a relatively small diameter, making drilling into them very difficult.

I've sort of managed to drill down into one but the screw extractors I've picked up (this sort of thing) have been to big to fit. I can't drill the hole any wider, though I might try to get a smaller extractor. But I'm not hopeful, and I've had no success with the other screw, anyway.

So, my thought is that I'll drill around the screw--I already did so accidentally, trying to drill down into the screw shaft--until enough of the screw is exposed so I can get needle-nosed locking pliers around it and screw it out.

My question, then, is how to I restore the wood so I can reattach the brace? I obviously can't drill somewhere else (the brace has to go in the same place), so I need to fill in the hole. I've read one recommendation to make an even hole about 1/2" and glue/tap in a wooden dowel. But the "plastic wood" fillers claim to be stronger than wood.

Which is the best option? Another reason I'm leery about using a dowel is that I want to avoid enlarging the hole: the piece it's going into is about 1.25" wide by a little under an inch deep, so I figure I want to keep as much of the original wood as possible.

Thanks.
 
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  #2  
Old 06-11-18, 05:47 AM
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So did you extract the original screws completely? Can you use a vise-grip to grab what little of the screw is exposed? I think the wood dowel is the way to go.
 
  #3  
Old 06-11-18, 06:44 AM
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I'd try a needle nose vise grips. IMO a wood dowel will look a LOT better than any wood filler will.
 
  #4  
Old 06-11-18, 11:44 AM
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I'm having a devil of a time getting the screw out. I bought the smallest Vise-Grip I could get but it still won't fit into the space I drilled around the screw, not well enough to grab hold, and I'm leery of making it any bigger for fear of weakening the whole thing. Attached is a picture showing what I mean--the hole I'm working on to the right, with the Vise-grip next to it, plus the hole I haven't started drilling out (and a tape measure for reference).

re: wood filler vs dowel. Appearance doesn't matter here, as the support brace will cover up the whole thing. Attached is a picture of another (not-broken) chair, arrows pointing to where the two broken screws are in the chair I'm working on. The curved brace will hide whatever I did, but I need the piece to remain as strong as possible.
 
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  #5  
Old 06-11-18, 01:13 PM
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They make screw extractors for wood. Basically they are toothed hollow tubes...like miniature hole saws...sized specifically for certain sized dowels. You drill down around the screw, then pry it back and forth til the plug snaps off with the screw inside it. Tap a glued dowel in, sand and stain.

Google "Hollow Screw Extractors".

A glued hardwood dowel will probably be the strongest part of the chair.
 
  #6  
Old 06-11-18, 02:17 PM
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Are they screws or ring shanked nails? The don't look like screws. It looks like you are drilling out the plug used to fill the countersink hole. I would see if you can work the two pieces of wood apart and tap the screw/nail out from the other side. You can always glue and fill in the receiving wood piece so that you can get them back together after you do your repair.
 
  #7  
Old 06-11-18, 03:51 PM
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They're screws--see below (this is from the other end of the brace, where it attaches to the chair bottom). The two pieces of wood aren't attached now--the screws broke off where the brace attaches to the chair back so it was just a matter of unscrewing the other two screws from the bottom to separate the pieces so I could access the broken screws. They can't be accessed from the back (see the second picture; the screws are visible, and you can see down on the floor the inside of the other part of the back where the brace attaches).

I've seen the broken screw extractors, and I think they'll be a last resort. The reviews are all over the place, with quite a few saying they're made of pretty brittle metal, which is surprising considering how much they are. And I'm hurrying to get this done for company this weekend, and I haven't seen them sold in around here. But I wonder if a small plug cutter would work?

The strength issue I'm concerned about is when someone is leaning against the back of the chair, pushing that vertical piece backwards. Does a plug contribute to the piece's strength? That is, picture making a 3/8" hole in a 1" square piece of wood that's about 3' long. If that hole goes most of the way through, it appreciably weakens to wood if you tried to snap it. Would putting a dowel in restore any of that strength?
 
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  #8  
Old 06-11-18, 04:36 PM
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You can add another screw for extra strength. I think any normal sized person will be OK on the repaired chair. Go with the wood dowel, it will be stronger than any filler.
 
  #9  
Old 06-12-18, 04:49 PM
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OK, I used a Dremel with very fine diamond-coated bit (this, I think) to drill out right around the screw. I think, once upon a time, that another repair was done here and wood glue had been used, which was made it much harder to extract (that I couldn't get a grip on the screws, which had broken off below the surface, certainly didn't help). Once I got enough material loosened I was able to get the screw out.

The screws finally removed, there were two parts of the hole: the larger portion that I made with a combo of drill bits and the plug cutter, and the smaller portion that I’d made with the Dremel bit. I packed wood filler in that small, shallow part. I'm waiting for that to dry, then I'll glue a piece of dowel in the larger top portion, which I cleaned/smoothed out to tightly fit a 7/16" hardwood dowel.

I don't believe I can fit a third screw in the area, so I'm going to make what I have work.

Any idea where I can find a screw like the one in post #7? It's black, 1.75" long and I'm pretty sure a #8, but with the smooth shank on the top 1.25" under the head. None of the usual suspects (Home Depot, Lowes, Ace) have it, the main problem being nothing in the 1.75" range, at least not in this color (I might just give up and see if they have it in plain steel and paint the top of the head).

Attached is how they look now. When it's all cured I'll clean out the extraneous bits of wood filler and glue in the dowel.
 
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Last edited by vanderdecker; 06-12-18 at 07:37 PM.
  #10  
Old 06-13-18, 02:33 AM
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I've always just used sheetrock or deck screws, depending on how strong they need to be in shear. You prob won't find 1 3/4"...but 1 5/8" into new wood should be plenty strong.
 
  #11  
Old 06-13-18, 02:54 AM
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While I'll admit to having used drywall screws extensively in the past, I think you'll be better off with a deck screw as they are a lot stronger.
 
  #12  
Old 06-13-18, 03:40 AM
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I definitely can't have them longer than 1-3/4" —that length brings the tip to within a millimeter or two of penetrating through and being exposed. And I think I need that smooth
 
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Old 06-13-18, 04:39 AM
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As Vic stated, 1 5/8" is a common size in both drywall and deck screws.
 
  #14  
Old 06-13-18, 05:24 AM
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As mentioned, a dowel is your best bet, but I would want a tight fit, glued directly to the wood, so since you've added wood filler to get it to 7/16" I would drill drill it to 1/2" and use that size dowel. Titebond III is my general "go to" choice, and it will give you a strong bond, but right now that wood filler is your weak link.
 
  #15  
Old 06-13-18, 06:30 AM
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Originally Posted by aka pedro
...right now that wood filler is your weak link.
I agree. Chairs see a tremendous amount of stress and I hate to see wood screws used anywhere structural.
Those look to be nice chairs otherwise and worth the effort to repair them. If they were mine I would drill those holes 7/16 as deep as possible and glue in tight-fitting hardwood dowels so your screws have something solid to anchor into. Wood filler is too soft and a shallow dowel will wiggle loose eventually when the filler crumbles.
I would also consider a blind dowel placed between the 2 screws to take some of the shear stress off the screws.

Way down the road if this chair ever needs another repair you would still have the option of using flat-head bolts into Tee-nuts in shallow sockets that could be covered by a thin wood plug.
 
  #16  
Old 06-13-18, 03:18 PM
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Just to be clear, I didn't use wood filler to get it to 7/16"--I used a 7/16" drill bit to enlarge the existing hole, which was already too wide to fit a 3/8" dowel tightly. Attached below is the dratted screw, sitting on a dime for size perspective and with an unbroken screw from the same brace for comparison. All that effort for something so small... it MUST have had glue in it.

The broken-off bit is about 1/2" long. All that trouble was for the final... I don't know, 1/4-3/8"? It was broken off a little below the surface.

I used the drill to enlarge and slightly deepen the hole, so I used the wood filler for less than 1/8", packing it into the narrow area around where the very tip had been, and let it dry. Then I cut the dowel to fit a little above the surface and glued it in, using a C-clamp to press it in really tightly. Later that day I sanded it down flush. I'll wait 24 hours before drilling the pilot hole and re-assembling. By my measure the dowel goes about halfway into the support, a little over 1/2" deep.

This is what it looks like now, at bottom. Despite the appearance that's all poplar dowel, no wood filler. There is no wood filler in the sides of the hole, just that little bit to fill in the small dip in the very center-bottom.
 
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